The first mention of the idea of transmitting solar power collected in space down to Earth has bee attributed by some to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the "father" of Russian space ideas. A date given is 1925. This appears too early to qualify for a real proposal, as it predates solar to RF energy conversion, although it certainly does not predate Tesla's ideas and experiments with transmission of electrical energy via radio waves.

Peter Glaser proposed the concept of a Solar Power Satellite at the Inter-society Energy Conversion Conference in 1968. The essence of this appears in a paper published in Science: P E Glaser, Power from the Sun: Its Future, Science, 162, 957-961 (1968). This then appears to be the seminal paper for the field.

Following the above initial paper, NASA in conjunction with the US DoE (Department of Energy) undertook an intensive study of the idea. The results appeared in a 1981 study: US Office of Technology Assessment, Solar Power Satellites, 1981 (US Gov Printing Office).

This assessment basically decided that the concept was not economically feasible at the time. The Japanese however, showed great interest in the concept following this report, and many of the publications from this time onward are of Japanese origin. The Europeans started to show an interest much later. The US revisted the issue with two studies around the turn of the millenium.

The first of these was: NASA, Space Solar Power: A Fresh Look at the Feasibility of Generating Solar Power in Space for Use on Earth, Report Number SAIC-97/1005, Contract NAS3-26565, Task Order 9, April 4, 1997.

This paper was followed up by a US Congressional Investigation discussing the issues involved. The outcome was basically that significant advancement (ie order of magnitude or more) was required in several technologies together with price reductions in various services (eg Launch to Orbit) of up to two magnitudes, before such a concept becomes commercially feasible.

The second review was conducted by a Committee of the US National Research Council: Committee for the Assessment of NASA's Space Solar Power Investment Strategy, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Division of Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Research Council, Laying the Foundation for Space Solar Power - An Assessment of NASA's Space Solar Power Investment Strategy, National Academy Press, Washington DC (2001)

The International Scientific Radio Union (URSI) commissioned a white paper on solar power satellite (SPS) systems, and this was published in the URSI journal, the Radio Science Bulletin, #321, June 2007. It can be downloaded from <>


Solar Power Satellites (Wiley-Praxis, 1997)
PE Glaser, FP Davidson and KI Csigi (editors)
This appears to be the only text devoted solely to the subject that has so far been published.